Some people eat to live, while others live to eat. What about you? How far would you travel for the best meal of your life?
Humans don’t have a choice, we must eat to live which is why anyone with any type of eating disorder has the worst time dealing with their disorder; you cannot escape having to eat.
I can only address this question within the lens of my own experiences growing up in a culinary obsessed family and also recovering from my own eating disorder. Ever since I can remember, what we were going to eat at the next meal was always the question of the moment. It was a question that my mother asked after breakfast, after lunch and after dinner in order to plan sufficiently and well for the next meal no matter if it were for one, two or ten people, knowing what was coming next was always of vital importance. My mother wasn’t the only one, all of the cooks in my family always had that same question on their mind as soon as the last bite of their breakfast, lunch or dinner was had. I was conditioned to consider the whole meal as something that greatly mattered; it had to be healthy, nutritious, not too fattening, vegetables were incredibly important and everyone’s tastes needed to be accommodated. Staying at the table after everyone was finished and brainstorming over what was next to be prepared was a normal after eating conversation. I always enjoyed planning and searching for something new and exciting to prepare, something to challenge my culinary skills and something new to learn from, cooking is another way to visit the world and learn about different customs, practices and philosophies.
Part of this food conditioning served me well in my anorexic heyday. What I mean by serving me well is that I used some of these tools to become a very adroite anorexic which are two words that should never be used together. I used the word adriote because for a long enough while I was able to hide my disease, if I had been truly successful, I would have died. Subconsciously that is what the anorexic is looking for, the ultimate way to erase herself from the world. But the tools that were instrumental in controlling my eating was the detailed food planning, the research and the discipline that comes from any scholarly endeavor. The inconvenient truth of being human and requiring food to live was an annoyance and I was striving to find ways to eat as little as possible to live; so I was definitely not living to eat, I was barley hanging on. Nowadays, I still struggle with my body image not on the same level as when I was younger but it still gives me a challenge.
I am happy to say that I do live to eat even if I am not indulging, rather I am sustaining; but I love cooking and planning for others; what delicious morsels I can prepare for them that will make them happy. I have found that you can live to eat and maintain a good weight as long as you get equally excited about fruits, vegetables and whole grains as you do about protein and sweet things. I have also found that Michael Pollan had the best advice for anyone who loves to indulge in food such as cakes and french fries; as long as you make it from scratch and do all of the clean up yourself, have at it. The process of making things from scratch and cleaning up afterwards does put a limit on how many times a week you will eat desserts and fried foods.
So in the end I am getting to a better place with how I address food in general and my relationship with it. Being honest about my eating disorder has helped me greatly, it certainly helps the soul when you do away with the stigma of having a disorder. There is no need for shame, it’s a cross to bear but everyone has one. There doesn’t exist, in the entire world, a person who can honestly state that they are cross free. It isn’t human.